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Searchers to explore NZealand mine where 29 died

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- The government has approved a plan for search teams to enter and explore the New Zealand mine where an explosion three years ago killed and entombed 29 miners.

But Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said Tuesday that chances are still slim of recovering bodies from the Pike River site.

That's because the plan would get teams only as far as a rock fall before they need to reassess conditions. Experts believe the miners died beyond the rock fall in an area that remains dangerous due to high levels of methane gas.

The re-entry plan will cost 7.2 million New Zealand dollars ($5.6 million), begin in October and take at least six months. It will involve sealing parts of the mine and pumping in nitrogen to prevent methane from reigniting.